When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’ So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
Holy Saturday is the most human of experiences, for it is a day of two halves. I remember my young children, lining up their boxed Easter eggs ready to eat on Easter morning. Sometimes the temptation was too great and the promise of a taste of chocolate got the better of them; they both became experts of unwrapping the golden or purple wrappers and then placing them in the box again, with only one half of the egg present.
Holy Saturday is a day when grief, pain or suffering can be so over- whelming, the darkness covers you like the stone that sealed the tomb, and enters every pore of your being; there seems no light and we feel trapped. Yet, on the other hand Holy Saturday, can be like a stirring deep within ourselves that all is not lost, but we just have to wait and watch, like the women in the passage.
For many people, Holy Saturday has been a mixture of these two emotions, straddling the pain yet hoping for the light to pierce the darkness.
Living constantly in a Holy Saturday emotion and experience, can be exhausting, painful, wearisome, depressing and leave one with a feeling of emptiness.
Yet as Christians, we know that all is not lost; the stirring deep within us holds a promise that a new day will dawn. However until then, let us recognize the Holy Saturdays within our family, within our relationships, within creation, within our world, and collectively hold our breath in the darkness, until we see the first shaft of light of Easter dawn breaking.
Lord, thank you that you are with us in our Holy Saturdays. When our emptiness is all consuming, hold us; When we feel cold and afraid, shelter us; When we feel alone and tearful, strengthen us. And as our tears fall, stay with us until the dawn breaks. Amen
The Rev’ d Ruth Dillon, Retired minister and member at Glenorchy URC, Exmouth.